Title: Castles, Kilts and Bagpipes, Oh My!
Tucked away in the rolling rocky hills of Scotland there is a medieval city that has withstood the tests of time and tourists. This is the birthplace of the Harry Potter series and twice a year the queen of England comes to stay! Welcome to the city of Edinburgh, Scotland.
This past weekend I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland with one of my good friends, Katie. We did not think that we were going to be able to make it to Scotland because when we looked at the price of tickets back in February they were over €100 just for one way. But, as luck would have it, we were able to find some for only €20 each way. So, after we stopped squealing from excitement we booked a two day trip to Edinburgh!
How far did I travel this week?
This week I traveled 1396km or 867.5 miles.
How far have I traveled on your journey so far?
After a month of traveling around Europe and taking various small weekend trips throughout Ireland I am happy to announce that I have traveled over 15,196 miles since January 1, 2013.
How did I get around this week?
This week I did a lot of walking and bus riding as well as plane riding. I walked a lot around Cork city, running errands and going to study at the library but the end of the week is when my adventure began. I took the bus with my friend Katie to the Dublin airport where we boarded a plane that took us all the way to Edinburgh, Scotland!
What was the most interesting place I visited this week?
The most interesting place that I visited this week was a little cafe called The Elephant House. Now you may be wondering how could a little cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland be the most interesting place that I visited this week? Well, it was the most interesting place I visited because this was the birthplace of the Harry Potter series. Yes folks, you heard correctly! I went and ate Sunday breakfast at the place where J.K. Rowling herself sat and created the fantastical world of Harry Potter!
Katie and I sat at a table tucked away in a corner in the back room of the cafe. If you turned your head ever so slightly you could look out the window and feast your eyes upon the majestic landscape of the Edinburgh Castle. Rowling said that she stared out those windows many times and was continuously inspired to create Hogwarts. With the ever so slight tap, tap, tap of the rain against the windowpane and view of the castle and rolling hills in the distant countryside it was not hard to use our imaginations to transport ourselves into actually believing that we could be in the settings for one of the Harry Potter novels.
The food was delicious. I had a traditional Scottish breakfast of which consisted of scrambled eggs and sausage with coffee, the view was spectacular but that was not even the most interesting part of The Elephant House.
The most interesting aspect of this homey little cafe came about in the most peculiar or odd places, which was the bathroom. The bathroom was a simple and typical cafe bathroom but there was something very, very, very intriguing covering the walls. Everywhere you looked the walls were covered in graffiti from fans of J.K. Rowling. This graffiti ranged from people thanking her for writing the series, to writing out their favorite quotes from the series, to drawing of the characters and symbols from the series. It was so neat to see how many people loved Harry Potter and how much they wanted to express their thanks to Mrs. Rowling for giving them such a great story to grow up reading.
Other travel news:
In other travel new for this week I had quite the adventure with my friend Katie as we went “hill-walking.” This is just walking or hiking up the hill paths, but let me tell you it is much more like mountain climbing. We decided to hike up to a famous point in Edinburgh called Arthur’s Seat. Now, I am sure this hike would have been ten times more enjoyable on a clear and sunny day, but then it would not have been as adventurous.
It was our last day in Edinburgh and it had been raining on and off all morning but Katie and I really wanted to make the most out of our trip and this was one view of the city that we did not want to miss. Katie and I are both love to throw on a pair of hiking boots and hit the trails and so we decided to set out on our trek despite the scary black clouds that were looming on the edge of the horizon. As we started out the weather was pleasant but as we gained height the winds started to pick up and it became slightly less enjoyable. About halfway up the trail Katie’s allergies became too bad, from the wind, and she had to go back down. I decided to try and make it to the top before the black clouds let out a torrential downpour… but didn’t quite make it before that happened. I was about three quarters of the way to the top when I was hit with sheets of rain and winds that wiped the straps on my hiking backpack this way and that. I thought for sure I was going to have to turn around but then all of a sudden, like someone turned off a faucet the rain stopped.
It was like a sign that I was supposed to make it to the top…and I did! Just as I reached the top, trying to keep my balance because the wind was still very strong the sun came out from behind the clouds and I saw one of the prettiest view I have ever seen! It looked like something that you only see on a postcard and never actually get to see in real life. I only had a time to snap a few photos before the sun slipped away and the next rain and wind storm started. I quickly, but carefully made my way down the hill and was about half way down the hill when it started to hail! Good thing I had my hat, a hood, and my rain-jacket on for protection because with the wind those pesky little hail stones hurt! The hail only lasted for a few moments and then again, just as before, the rain stopped and the sunshine came out. Whew! What crazy weather Scotland has.
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
What is the air temperature right now?
The air temperature right now is about 55 degrees.
How was the weather this week?
The weather this week was fairly decent. We had a few days that it did not rain at all and one of those days was on my birthday. It was my birthday wish to not have any rain and it came true! It must be the luck of the Irish!
What animals did I see this week?
I did not really see any interesting animals this week besides the cats that live next to my building and the occasional dog that I see as I am running through the city. Although, I was almost attacked by a pigeon on the way to school yesterday. I was turning a corner and at the same time a car drove by a scared a pigeon that was perched right by my face. Needless to say it really startled me and I am pretty sure that my friends did not stop laughing at me until we got to campus.
What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week?
The coolest thing that I saw in nature this week would have to be watching the rain and hail clouds pass over me and start raining on a different section of the city.
Other Nature News:
In other Nature News I was able to see one of the biggest and brightest rainbows on the way to the Dublin airport that I have ever seen. I was Able to capture a few photos, but unfortunately I was on a fast moving bus that had to stick to a strict schedule, so I could not just ask the bus driver to pull over and let me off but it was so beautiful.
What languages are spoken here?
What type of money is used here?
How much does a bottle of water cost?
About one to two pounds.
What was the best meal this week?
The best meal that I had this week was one that Katie and I made while we were staying in our hostel in Edinburgh. We gathered up some groceries from the store and came back and made pizzas! It was perfect because the pizza was nice and hot and we were chilled from hiking around all day in the cold wind and rain!
What music did I listen to this week?
I listened to my Zune this week, but I also listened to some old records. The hostel that we stayed at had a “Groove Lounge” where there was shelves upon shelves of old records from the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s. We spent a few hours just going through and playing different types of music from all of the different decades. It was so much fun!
What activity was the most fun this week?
The activity that was the most fun this week was getting to go to the Elephant House. Being able to say that I was at the place where my favorite series of books was created was a really to me.
What did I read this week?
This week I started The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. He also wrote The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
What games or sports did I play this week?
I did not play any sports this week but I did learn a new card game. This game is very popular in Ireland and a few of my Irish friends were nice enough to teach me the game called 47. The object of the game is to get the most points in each round by laying down the best card. This game is full of strategies and takes the better part of the afternoon to get through, so it is perfect for a rainy day!
Other news from this week:
In other news this week I had an exam for one of my history classes. I spent a very long time studying for this exam and read over 600 pages of material in order to prepare for it. I was very nervous going into the exam, but because I had studied and worked so hard I was able to answer all of the questions with no problems at all. Just remember your hard work will always pay off in the end!